The History of GSMA Latin America

With the aim of promoting GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) technology among operators and users across Latin America, GSMA Latin America (GSMA LA) was founded in 1998. The GSM Association dated back some eleven years earlier, but with the creation of GSMA LA, the technology that was on its way to achieving the highest penetration worldwide also expanded into Latin America.

GSMA Latin America member Operators

GSMA Latam Operators

The first companies to adopt this standard in the region were ENTEL PCS in Chile and Infonet in Venezuela. A short time later, other operators in Paraguay, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia signed on for GSM as they became aware of its benefits. Since then, the technology has expanded continuously and today more than 98 mobile operators in every country of Latin America and the Caribbean use this technology.

Working groups of experts from mobile operators

Three years after the founding of GSMA LA, its working groups were born. These groups are comprised of experts from the mobile operator companies that are members of the association. They meet several times each year to share and debate topics of interest that affect or could affect operators and more broadly, the industry. The groups include Regulatory (REGU), Billing and Roaming (BARG), Technical and Terminals (TECT), and Security and Fraud (SEGF).

One of the most important tasks of these groups is to draft position papers. All member operators can participate in this process, giving their opinions on key issues that affect the continent. These papers are generally presented at the meetings of the Inter-American Telecommunications Commission (CITEL) and other forums where government officials, regulators and industry reps come together.

GSMA LA Plenary Meetings – across Latin America

Mapa web-09

The current strategy of GSMA LA is to organize two plenary meetings per year, rotating among the different countries in Latin America. At these meetings, the four working groups meet and workshops and panels are held on the most innovative mobile industry services. Government officials, regulatory agencies and the top executives from regional operators all attend the meetings.

In addition to its involvement in all of the events related to the telecommunications industry in Latin America, GSMA LA is taking an increasingly active role in the key debates for the development of the regional market. Its contributions extend to areas like regulation, antennas, roaming, spectrum, mobile broadband, taxation, mobile payments, terminals and privacy, among the many fundamental issues for the development of mobile services in the future.

GSMA LA today: structure, governance and regional offices

With the clear target of improving the service to GSMA LA members and expanding the association’s presence in the region, the organization has appointed a director to oversee the Latin American region. This post was created in 2010 and it is currently held by Sebastián Cabello, who works with a permanent staff in offices located in Santiago (Chile), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Brasilia and San Pablo (Brazil).

The structure of GSMA Latin America

With this work team, GSMA LA strives to meet the objectives and goals outlined in conjunction with its member operators for the projects, events and initiatives that are developed over the course of the year.

The governance of GSMA LA took an important turn at the start of 2012, when the Chief Regulatory Officers Group for Latin America (CROG Latam) was created. This group is comprised of senior public policy representatives of the largest groups of operators in Latin America and the Caribbean. CROG Latam is the main governance body of GSMA LA and it currently oversees GSMA’s public policy activities in the region. It works to ensure that the interests of Latin American carriers are taken into account on the agendas of the GSMA Board, the Public Policy Committee (PPC) and the Global Chief Regulatory Officers Group (CROG).

The Latin American mobile industry and a vision for the future

According to data from the second quarter of 2013, there are 163 national mobile operators in the region and technologies from the GSM family are responsible for approximately 669 million connections, or 97% of all mobile connections. The average mobile penetration in Latin America exceeded 113% in June 2013: the GSM platform allows 514 million voices (2G) to connect while giving 174 million Latin Americans broadband access (3G).

When GSMA LA was born, the GSM platform was mainly in use in Europe, and was just beginning in North America. Today, Latin America is interconnected thanks to GSM and on its way to launch a new generation of LTE networks that will allow the region’s mobile operators to provide a series of innovative mobile services that will lay the groundwork for continued growth. Along the way, GSMA Latin America will continue to support its member operators in all of the key aspects of the mobile business.